WCU-OC Executive Director Ada Gerard Shares Her Family's Fight Against Frontotemporal Degeneration

Posted on 07/06/2017

WCU-Orange County Executive Director Ada Gerard spoke at Saddleback Hospital on June 5 about her personal experience with Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD).

“My husband has FTD, which is a form of dementia for young people, and is in hospice,” Gerard said. “It shrinks the brain and affects body systems. I want people to know it, see it, understand what it is and let people know that caregivers are hardworking people who need a lot of support.”

Gerard gave her presentation to the Coordinating Council of Orange County, an organization that creates monthly networking events for people in the senior care industry. Entitled “My Marriage with FTD: The Adventures of Gary & Ada,” Gerard shared with the audience some of the trials and tribulations that accompany having a spouse with FTD.

“It was an amazing talk. In fact, she received a standing ovation at the end of it,” Mary Sanchez, WCU-Orange County clinical relations manager, said. “She has the ability to tell the story in a way that was heart-wrenching, real and humorous at the same time. Everyone was moved.”

While FTD has no known cure or cause, Gerard said she’s hopeful that with increased awareness will come increased research and, eventually, a cure. In the meantime, Gerard said she would continue to remind healthcare workers to encourage the caregivers at home, who often toil with little financial or emotional support.

“When it's a patient, you can send them home at night, even if you know it's terminal. There's a different connection than when you go home and it's the person in bed next to you or your mom or your dad,” Gerard said. “Listen to the family members and just be aware of their needs, because the patient can't."

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